Sko Journal is a new bi-annual publication dedicated to the world of shoes. We slip into conversation with its editor Rebecca Parker and designer Josh Bristow.
“The footwear industry is becoming a hybrid, combining classic shoe-making techniques combined with the desire to produce shoes that are forward-thinking.”
Where did the idea for Sko Journal originate? Can you tell us a bit about the main people involved?
Josh: Becky and I had the idea while working at a content design agency and producing editorial content for our clients. We wanted to produce a publication together, but something that was not as generic as a fashion magazine, something much more niche and dedicated to a topic.
I had worked in footwear for eight years at John Lewis and always enjoyed admiring shoes and their shape and diversity etc…
What lessons did you learn from making the first issue?
Josh: Producing our first issue was a challenging process, as we were doing it all in our spare time after work and at weekends.
It took six months in total to make the first issue (116 pages) in the evenings and weekends, as well as shooting with photographers, stylists, organising samples from PRs, etc.
Which publications inspired you as you established Sko?
Josh: I wanted the design to be very clean and stripped back allowing the beautiful fashion imagery to speak more than the text, which is why I chose a sans serif typeface as the main identity of the publication
You examine vegan brands in the footwear scene. What other discoveries have you made about the industry through your work on Sko? Are there any other definable trends we should be aware of?
Rebecca: I think there’s a big shift in customers looking for ethical footwear in general. They’re looking to buy shoes that are not just high quality but use sustainable methods of manufacturing. There’s a crop of family-run factories in outposts in key shoe manufacturing hotspots such as Spain and Italy that both indie brands and high-end brands are looking to for help crafting their designs. With this in mind, we’re also seeing a shift in the materials used to produce shoes.
On the one hand you have designers opting for futuristic, high performance materials whilst on the other, natural textures and unusual materials, such as old fishing nets, are being used in innovative ways. I think, on the whole, the footwear industry is becoming a hybrid, combining classic shoe-making techniques combined with the desire to produce shoes that forward-thinking.
We read recently that over 300 million pairs of sneakers are thrown away from the the 23 billion made each year and they take 30-40 years to decompose in landfill. Do you think people have differing attitudes to the environmental issues surrounding footwear in contrast to clothing?
Rebecca: I think you’re always going to get people who are very much of the mindset of ‘see, buy, wear, dump’, but, as I said above, I think there is a conscious change in perceptions towards waste, not just in footwear but within the wider fashion industry.
Both customers and designers are opening up their eyes to the impact of waste on our living, breathing world and are taking active steps to reduce waste. I think it’s a shared industry-wide concern, from head to toe.
What are you wearing on your feet today? (One for you and Josh) What is the most coveted piece of footwear you ever owned and which do you desire?
Josh: A pair of classic Nike Airs in Bone Suede
Rebecca: I’m wearing labeless black mules that Josh actually bought me from a charity shop. A £3 bargain! I adore shoes that have a bit of history and often make up stories about their past.
Is advertising support from the industry a target as you grow awareness of Sko?
Josh: Yes, we raised our print funds by launching a Kickstarter page and are raising awareness through email send outs to the industry as well as promoting it on social media
Who would be your dream commission for a shoot?
Josh: We love working with new up and coming students or fresh brands so we can promote and push them as the publication grows.
Issue One of Sko Journal is out now, £15 (inc. postage and packaging)